If it hasn’t already, understanding the sales funnel will change the way you look at online marketing. And placing that sales funnel framework over top of social media can make for a powerful tool in your online marketing campaign.
The key visual of the sales funnel is the gradual narrowing down of leads, effort, and message, as you begin to focus your campaign more intensely over time on those who will likely become customers or clients. This is easily achievable with social media as a base requirement; read on!
Social Media Sales Funnel – The process of Generating and Winning Leads with Social Media
Can’t Get Broader Than a Broadcast
The best (and worst) thing about social media is its openness. The top of the sales funnel is about getting your message out to as many people as possible in order to both raise awareness with people unfamiliar with you and to reinforce your message with people who might be aware.
In this way, the top of the social media sales funnel is all about content generation and messaging. Frequent blog posts, tweets, or an active pinboard will make people aware of you, your interests, and your expertise.
An open internet also has its downsides as well. While with a traditional media campaign your message could see some competition, there were some barriers to entry in the form of normally having to pay to have your message seen.
With social media, the platforms are entirely open and the playing field is level to the extent that, unless you take steps to rise above the fray, your voice has no more power than any other person’s. Differentiation is where you rise above the fray.
Narrowing and Targeting
As you get the message out there, you should begin to interact with those individuals who themselves rise above the fray and begin to show an interest in what you do. These are the people who reply to your blog posts or tweets, or maybe people who reblog your content on Tumblr. People who have become proactively engaged with your brand.
It’s important to use social media responsibly with this population of folks; as with any lead conversion, you walk a fine line between engaging and driving a person away. The best way to engage interested or commenting parties is to ask clarifying questions about things they mention in comments. They’ll feel honored to be contacted by you and you’ll work toward converting them to customer status.
And to reach those who may not have shown an interest yet, but who could be persuaded, another major bonus to social media comes into play. As you narrow the sales funnel, your messaging needs to become a lot more meaningful and targeted. With social media, that means going viral.
To really narrow your messaging and reach people in a way that resonates with them emotionally, take part in memes: do an ice bucket challenge, or post tips and tricks to Facebook, or participate in a hashtag related to your business. This shows people that you’re not just out there to make sales, but that you’re interested in engaging with people.
The Connection and the Sale
At some point, those who fell into the latter category in the previous section (i.e. those who could be interested with some engagement) will move into the former category of those who now actively reach out and interact with you on different platforms.
As you’re making connections with people, now it’s important to start asking yourself some questions. Put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes. What problems can you solve for them by engaging in a relationship? Whatever the answer is to that question, provide it to your leads and they’ll be far more likely to turn into customers.
Travelling down the funnel toward the narrow end is really only about deeper and deeper interactions. As you get narrowed, your meaningful conversations with potential customers should be fairly limited to those you’re pretty sure will convert already. Maybe you know them by name, and likewise. These folks should have no problem converting when the time is right.
Here’s where the social media sales funnel challenge lies: the close. Making the sale can be incredibly difficult on a platform that is almost certainly free. It’s hard to make people think of spending money or engaging in a relationship to spend money when all they’re doing is wasting time on the Internet (or so they think).
Closing the sale with a social media focus is really about the sentence, “I’ll just leave this here.” This means that you’re almost certain to be denied with a hard-sell approach in which you ask for a sale. Much better to soft-sell it and ensure that all the resources necessary for your leads to engage in a customer relationship are available to them. This means links to relevant pages go anywhere and everywhere.
If you weren’t convinced before, hopefully this spin on social media marketing has you thinking a little bit differently. At its essence, social media operates like any other medium, except that social media is inherently free and open, allowing anyone to travel down the marketing path. As with any bit of marketing, though, it takes a plan to make it work.